Climate change risk assessment 2021

The risks are compounding, and without immediate action the impacts will be devastating.
Research paper Updated 4 November 2021 Published 14 September 2021 ISBN: 978 1 78413 491 4
Photo shows rescue workers in boats working to evacuate a flooded hospital in Zhengzhou, China

At COP26, the governments of highly emitting countries will have a critical opportunity to accelerate emissions reductions through ambitious revisions of their nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

If emissions follow the trajectory set by current NDCs, there is a less than five per cent chance of keeping temperatures well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and less than one per cent chance of reaching the 1.5°C target set by the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Unless NDCs are dramatically increased, and policy and delivery mechanisms are revised accordingly, many of the climate change impacts described in this research paper are likely to be locked in by 2040, and become so severe they go beyond the limits of what nations can adapt to.

As well as the immediate physical and socio-economic consequences of changes in climate, the paper captures the systemic cascading risks likely to arise as these direct risks and impacts compound to affect whole systems, including people, infrastructure, the economy, societal systems and ecosystems.

A summary report of the research findings, intended for heads of government, is also available as a PDF download in English, ArabicChineseFrench, JapanesePortuguese and Spanish versions.